20 October, 2008

Four cadets representing VMI’s Institute Honors Program presented their research at the annual joint meeting of the Popular Culture Association in the South and American Culture Association in the South (PCAS/ACAS) in Louisville, KY, last weekend.

Cadets Alex Brush (IS/MLC ’09), Chris Dommert (CEE ’10), and Alex Snyder (CH ’09) presented papers written originally for the seminar “Shakespeare’s Leaders” taught by Colonel Emily Miller, Navas-Read Institute Professor and Head of the Department of English and Fine Arts, in spring 2008. Colonel Miller organized the session, titled “Current Perspectives from a College Classroom on Mercy and Justice in Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice and Measure for Measure,” and introduced the cadets’ work with a presentation of her own on teaching Shakespeare.  This is the second consecutive year that Colonel Miller has presented a panel of student work from her honors seminar, which has quickly become one of the most popular electives in the Institute Honors curriculum.

At the conference reception, Cadet Even Rogers (EN ’10) was awarded the 2008 Roger Rollin Memorial Prize for the best student essay (graduate or undergraduate) on a topic in American Studies for his presentation, “Open Eyes, Flexible Minds: The Convergence of Progressivism and Modernism in the Founding of Black Mountain College.”  This presentation was an excerpt from a longer essay on this topic that Cadet Rogers wrote during SURI 2008 under the mentorship of Colonel Rob McDonald, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and Professor of English.  Unanimously chosen by the three readers who reviewed the nominated essays, his essay was the first undergraduate submission to win the award in recent memory.

“I think people from other schools are surprised to go to a session and find a chemistry or civil engineering undergraduate in gray blouse talking with such insight about Shakespeare—or an English major talking about John Dewey and American progressivism.  But as I have seen repeatedly, that surprise soon turns to amazement.  Seeing these cadets perform so superbly at an interdisciplinary conference like PCAS/ACAS is a reminder to me of what the Institute Honors Program is all about,” said Colonel McDonald, who directs the program.  

Founded in 1971 and including members from all disciplines in the humanities and social sciences, PCAS/ACAS is the oldest and largest of four regional associations devoted to the study of popular and American culture.


Studies in American Culture, one of two nationally circulated journals published by PCAS/ACAS, is sponsored in part by VMI’s Institute Writing Program and edited by Colonel Rob McDonald.  Colonels William Badgett and Christina McDonald serve on the journal’s editorial board. Lieutenant Commander Alexis Hart, who teaches courses in technical writing, provides layout and design assistance.

The Fall 2008 issue of SiAC contains book reviews by Cadet Greg Lippiatt (EN/HI ’08); Colonels Jim Hentz, John Leland, and David Rachels; and Mary Moody-Northen Visiting Professor Louis Blair.